Homemade Musical Instrument That Changes Pitch

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Making instruments is an excellent way for children to learn about concepts concerning pitch, rhythm and properties of various instrument families. Homemade instruments allow children to become more involved in the process of making music. Pitched instruments are instruments that make higher or lower sounds depending on how you play them. Making instruments that change pitch requires some basic supplies, a little time and some creativity.

Bottle Xylophone

  • Obtain eight empty bottles of the same size. You can use plastic or glass bottles, but plastic is recommended when working with younger children because of safety concerns. Fill each bottle with water, increasing the amount of water progressively with each bottle. You also can add different food coloring to the bottles for artistic flare. Blow across the tops of the bottles to observe how pitch changes according to the level of water. You might try to match the bottles' pitches (by pouring off water or adding more water) to a musical scale on an instrument. Experiment with playing simple songs on the bottles.

Box Guitar

  • Tape the lid of an empty shoe box to the box. Cut a hole about 2 inches in diameter in the center of the box. Attach rubber bands of various sizes and thicknesses onto the box, allowing the bands to cross the hole in the lid. Glue a paper towel tube onto one end of the box for a decorative "neck" accent. Make a bridge by placing a small pencil underneath the rubber bands at the end of the hole opposite the neck. Pluck the strings to observe the pitches. The thicker and larger the string is, the lower the pitch will be (and vice versa). Experiment with changing pitch by using different rubber bands and by tightening and loosening the bands.

Hose Bugle

  • Cut a garden hose about 18 nches from one end. Create a loop in the hose so that each end extends about 3 inches beyond the loop. Tape the loop on the top side with duct tape to secure it. Insert a small plastic funnel into the end of the hose that was cut. Hold the hose with one hand on top of the loop and one hand on the funnel. Purse your lips and place them on the other end of the bugle. Blow into the hose while vibrating your lips together. Purse tighter or looser to change the pitch.

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